—Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (16 February, Morning: "Learning Contentment")
As I alluded to last night, one of the annoyances of the work week has been trying to correct and redirect people at my church who seem passionately committed to pursuing endeavors that, while not bad in and of themselves, distract focus from where we really need to be going right now. In simpler terms, "rabbit trails." The details aren't important, but the process of trying to keep us on track and stop us from going down what I believe to be an unwise path (right now) has consumed some time and kept me frustrated. There've been email exchanges and conversations, especially with one young man who has great determination for a project that I think should wait.
(Trust me—it's even more boring if I try to explain further.)
So here's the point: he came to my Community Group last night. I didn't know he might coming until minutes before we began; he's an active participant in another group and it's completely unusual (bordering on bizarre) that he would, out of the blue, decide to drop in for a visit. That's simply never happened before, with anyone. And last night we were studying Acts, beginning with this passage:
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.That's right, a whole section about God's guidance, about how He often says "no" or "not yet" to good things we want to pursue for the sake of the gospel, as well as calling us to join Him where He wants us to work, and the process of discerning this call in community ("...concluding that God had called us..."). Had I known he was coming in advance, it likely would have shaped how I read the passage and directed the discussion.
Further, our guest was able to share his heart a bit when we prayed at the end, about how he's recently been driven to be going all the time in many directions, but feels as if he's spinning his wheels with no traction.
Confession: I didn't want this guy to be there. I was tired, and most specifically, tired of this distraction and his role in it. But God clearly has His own thing going on, and when it's that clear, there's not much one can do but fall in line and let the awe sink in that, even in such seemingly small matters, He is at work.
That's not just (or even primarily) about our direction and focus, though I'm tempted to think so. A great deal of His work and guidance is about my heart, about shaping, softening, and strengthening it. My compassion for my friend and ability to pray for him in the midst of my frustration just increased tenfold. My awareness that all of us need to be seeking His direction, to listen for His "no," "not yet, " and "yes," over and above what either passion or wisdom might tell us, is clearly and emphatically punctuated.
Aslan is on the move.